The year ahead in D.C.-area transportation

By Robert Thomson and Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 1, 2011; 6:09 PM

Government revenue problems have dampened spending on transportation improvements in the D.C. region, yet some of the biggest road and rail projects in the nation will reach significant milestones in 2011, or at least have major effects on commuting patterns as their construction continues this year. We'll revisit some of them in more detail as the new year develops.

11th Street Bridge: The new bridge rising in the Anacostia River is the District's biggest transportation project, and several important developments are scheduled for 2011. This spring, a new segment of southbound DC 295 should open. Then in the fall, the two new freeway spans under construction between the old bridge spans should be completed. A little over a year later, the new local span is scheduled to be done.

Intercounty Connector:The connector highway also made the list for 2010, because project managers had hoped to open the first segment of MD 200 in the fall. But after half a century of on-and-off planning and construction, what's another short wait? We're pretty confident that drivers soon will be paying the tolls to use the connector between I-270/370 and Georgia Avenue.

Beltway HOT lanes: By spring, lanes on the Capital Beltway from Braddock to Gallows roads are scheduled to shift right, allowing work to begin on new lanes in the middle of the highway. These middle lanes will become the High Occupancy Toll lanes when the project is done in late 2012. Later this year, more new bridge spans will open at the Beltway interchanges.

Dulles Metrorail: Drivers will encounter major detours on I-66, the Dulles Toll Road and side roads that intersect with Routes 7 and 123 in Tysons Corner. Most of these will occur overnight, but commuters should expect to see lane closings and congestion throughout 2011. Some Metrorail service disruptions will occur at the East and West Falls Church stations as work continues on connecting the new line to the Orange Line. The first phase of construction to Reston is scheduled to be done in 2013.

I-66 West: The widening of the westbound interstate inside the Beltway for two miles between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street is scheduled to be done by the end of the year. This is the first of the "spot improvements" welcomed by long-distance commuters but unpopular in Arlington County.

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